My baby essentials

Before having a baby, my daily essential items would more or less consist of my phone, purse, keys and a bottle of water. If travelling I’d also have my camera and passport.

When preparing to have a baby, we looked at a number of lists of so called baby essentials (google it, and you’ll get one hundred and one different lists). We also talked to friends with babies and got a general idea of what was required.

It can often be easy to get carried away with items for your baby. Go into  any large baby store and you’ll be faced with so many things. It can be so overwhelming.

We felt this sense of being overwhelmed in particular when buying our pram. There were so many choices, and price ranges. In the end, we went for something that fitted in our car and within our price range.

That aside, the main things you need before the arrival of a baby will be nappies, wipes, clothes, a car seat and a safe place for them to sleep. Anything else you can buy later.

What are my baby essentials?

Now that we are 4 months into our journey as parents, there are a fair few items that I consider to be daily essentials, or ‘must haves’.

  • Muslin cloths 

As we were stocking up on baby items, we picked up a few packs of muslin cloths, thinking around 9 would be enough. Luckily one of our friends gave us a bunch which she was done with, and we now have about 30. I thought it was a bit overkill. However, when you have a bit of a sicky baby (reflux) then a muslin is essential. You could use bibs, but we found that they didn’t really protect us from the vom.

We now use muslin cloths on our change mat (for the explosive poo moments), and in our pram. We did also use them in the bath at the beginning to get her used to being bathed.

  • Breast pump 

My breastfeeding journey didn’t really go as I had liked. 3 days in I started to express to build a supply and hoped I could have my baby directly breastfeed, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I’ve now been through several breast pumps. An item I had no real understanding of beforehand. I think I am now pretty much an expert in expressing and breast pumps.

I have recently made the switch between using a manual hand pump to an electric and now the proud owner of a hands-free elvie pump.

My breast pump is considered a daily essential item now as I use it between 4-5 times per day in order to feed my baby. The good thing about the elvie is that it fits in my bra, in my handbag for when I am going out, and I can wander freely wearing it.

I debated for such a long time as to whether to invest in the elvie as it is one of the most expensive breast pumps on the market. However, it has literally bought me my freedom and I feel much happier continuing on my breastfeeding journey now.

  • Steam steriliser 

Having a steriliser goes hand in hand with feeding via a bottle. It has been a lifesaver to have and is used more than once per day. At the beginning however when I was expressing more frequently, it seemed to be on constantly.

You can of course do cold water sterilising with Milton tablets for example, though I don’t like how it makes them smell afterwards.

We do have some MAM bottles and dummies and these can go in the microwave, which is great for when you are out and about. We managed to do this when travelling with our newborn for the first time.

  • Bedside cot

For the first 6 months it is recommended that your baby sleeps in the same room as you. Therefore we invested in a Next to me cot that attached to the bed. This was so good to have due to the frequent wake ups in the night, and could just reach over and lift our baby out.

We later were gifted a SnuzPod crib which is similar and we love it. It can rock and be set slightly higher at the head end if needed for babies with reflux.

It is so lovely waking up with your baby next to you. Although you will hear every breath, twitch and the tiniest of noise.

I do think I will miss having her close by when she moves rooms.

  • Sleeping bags

For us sleeping bags have been a daily (or nightly) essential. No, I am not talking about those full size ones that you take camping, I mean the ones you can get for babies.

At times it can be so difficult to know what to dress a baby in for bed time. We have a gro egg for our room and also use this handy guide on what babies should wear for the temperature of the room.

Image from the baby centre

In the early days, as our baby was so small (and didn’t fit any of the sleep bags) we just placed her in her cot with a blanket. As she grew we found she’d kick the blanket off her or toward her face.

We then invested in a few of these sleeping sacs and found that she was much more settled sleeping at night.


Dummies (or pacifiers) are quite a controversial product, especially for young babies. We initially didn’t want to give our baby a dummy, however at a mere 5 days old it was the only thing that would settle her and stop her from screaming until she was red in the face. It was difficult for me to accept this initially as I knew that I should have been able to settle her on me with breastfeeding.

We now use them daily as find that our baby can settle herself to sleep with them. She will often spit them out once asleep, but it is a good starting point.

We now own several dummies and store some in the car, in each change bag and in her car seat. It may seem like overkill, but when you have a baby screaming and the dummy has dropped on the floor then you will need a back up.

Sterilising wipes

These are something that we have invested in fairly recently. Great for wiping down toys or anything that drops on the floor (especially when everything now goes in her mouth). Also great for wiping down a public baby changing table.

Baby sling 

We tried a few slings in the early days and I didn’t really get on with any of them. I tried various fabric style ones but I found them so awkward to get on.

We already had an ergobaby 360 and loved it for outdoor use, but it wasn’t the easiest to put on single handedly. It was great though when both of us were together and we used it on a few walks.

Out at a National Trust property with our baby in the ErgoBaby 360

At the end of last year,  we were gifted a newborn embrace carrier from ErgoBabty. This is a fabric sling which clips at the back and sides, and is gorgeous. It is easy to put on single handedly and feels so comfortable. It was great for us when our baby was going through a clingy stage and didn’t want to be put down. So we could just ‘wear’ her and wander around the house doing things we needed to.

Image from ErgoBaby
  • Baby play gym 

Along with clothes, the next thing most people will likely buy for your baby is toys.

Our house is now coming down with toys and teddies and we are only 19 weeks into our journey as parents.

I do feel that some toys are necessary though and have their place, especially toys for sensory development.

One of the best things we bought (second hand again) was a play gym. We now use this daily and our baby loves it, and has the ability to accurately grab the toys hanging from it.

Additional items which we have, and use on a regular (but not daily) basis
  • Baby bath insert

There are a number of baby baths on the market these days and some can be quite pricy. You don’t really need one (especially in the early days) and could easily use a washing up bowl.

We bought a collapsible baby bath second hand, which has been great for us as have taken it travelling.

We also invested in a baby bath insert sponge (thanks mothercare closing down sale). Prior to this it took two of us to bath our baby. Now she is supported with the sponge and we can do it single handedly.

  • Stain remover 

These are two products which we have in our cupboard that we use (almost) on a daily basis.

Great for poo stains in clothes and on the carpet (when you have a poonami that ends up on the bedroom floor at 4am you’ll definitely need this carpet stain remover – its genius, and gets out any stain).

  • Baby organiser 

In the early days we had a few ‘change stations’ in the house. One in the baby nursery and the other downstairs, as she was being changed so frequently. Nowadays it is all just in the nursery. We have already got a huge stash of nappies and wipes, which stay in a drawer.

We have a cot top changing mat and beside that we have a little organiser bag filled with wipes, muslin cloths and nappies. Its great to have some just to hand, rather than having to run to the other side of the room for additional supplies.

  • Thermos flask

Having a flask is kind of a must as a new parent. The amount of half drank and lukewarm cups of tea you will go through is insane.

We also use our thermos flask when out and about, carrying hot water to heat up a bottle. That way if we are caught short, we don’t need to run into a cafe to ask for hot water. The flasks we have keep the liquid warm for 8 hours.

  • Cuddledry towel 

Prior to the arrival of our baby, we were gifted a bath time set from the company Cuddledry. Included with this was their award winning handsfree towel.

This is something we now use with every bath time and again it is amazing. It feels so lovely being able to have a warm snuggle with our baby after bath time. It also makes it so much easier for a single person to get a baby out of the bath to dry.

Cuddling my newborn with the cuddledry towel after her first bath at just 7 days old
What we bought but didn’t really need or use much
  • Hats 

We were given a number of newborn cotton hats. In the end we used a few for about 1 week. We then switched to a knitted hat and used just the one. We have now given away a stash of hats to our other people.

Out and about in our favourite knitted newborn hat
  • Scratch mits 

Babies often like to touch and scratch their face, with their deceptively long nails. Scratch mits are often sold in newborn clothing packs to help prevent them from doing this. We were given a few in the beginning, but didn’t end up using them as most sleep suits (baby grows) have built in mits that just fold over their hands.

  • Bouncer chair

Some people swear by bouncer or swing chairs. However, we just didn’t seem to get on with ours. Perhaps it was because our baby was quite small and didn’t fit into it too well, then once big enough we would put her in the play gym or into a baby nest for naps.

  • Moses basket

We had a moses basket and used it for approx. 1 month. It was good initially when both my husband and I were taking the long nights in shifts. We would have the moses basket in the living room and sit up just rocking her to sleep (oh how I do not miss those days).

  • Swaddles

Some babies love to be swaddled. Ours didn’t. She hated not having her hands free, so consequently we didn’t use any of the swaddles we had.

As our baby grows and develops, I am sure this list will change. We already feel that we have a house full of baby stuff and are constantly thinking about storage.
What are your must have items for babies, or items that you didn’t use much?

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